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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

PREPARE to win so you can EARN the right to win

“I have so much to do and such little time to do it!”

I cannot tell you HOW frustrated I get when I hear this! Why are you starting so late? Why do you feel so unprepared? What is the core of the problem and how can we fix it?

Here’s some suggestions:

- Commit early.
If you are interested in competing one year out, start preparing ONE YEAR OUT. Even if you have not paid your fees or submitted that headshot yet, if you are interested, start preparing! This includes fitness training, interview prep, gown shopping, alterations etc. Stop going in circles; prepare early so you don’t stress as the pageant gets closer. Then, when you make the final decision to compete, you will avoid rushing and panicking. 

- Seek help early.
Dropping in to see your coach just one week before a pageant is just asking for failure. There is no way a crash course is going to adequately prepare you. And can you imagine all of the girls who have been training hardcore for 6 months and you start practicing 6 or 7 days before? There is just no way you will feel as  confident or calm as that girl who has been preparing for months. It’s just like preparing for a test - preparing often and on a regular schedule will get you a much better score than that one cram session will. Stop waiting - seek the help you need early so you feel as prepared as possible walking across that stage! My honest suggestion is to schedule regular check-ins with your coach, trainer, advisors etc. That way, you are always preparing in some capacity. 

- Constantly resume build. 
Ok, so you have four hours of community service required for your upcoming pageant…and you have one week to do it…? STOP! If you are constantly volunteering and building your resume, there will be no rush! And what if that organization is not available during that week you need them for that letter of verification? Then what?! Also, get involved in your school and local community. If you are passionate about breast cancer awareness, but have never been in touch with your local breast cancer organization, there IS a problem! Stop rushing as you get closer to your pageant - get involved and stay involved. Constantly work on your resume building so you can have enough content and experience to talk about in your interview.

- Be strategic.
If you spend 1 hour per night watching your favorite TV show then that means that you have 1 hour per week to do what you need to do to prepare. The same way you schedule in dinner, social time, TV time etc, you can and MUST schedule in prep time. I'm not saying that you can never have TV time or down time, but just as you put focus on watching your TV show or that time with friends, you can shift your focus if winning means something to you and you will make the time to prepare!

I cannot tell you how many times I hear “I have so much to do and such little time to do it!” Plan. Schedule. Make a chart. Make a table. Create a packing list. Seek help. Do whatever you must to utilize your time wisely to get the results you want and deserve! You must EARN the right to win and there is NO way you will earn it if you do not put the work in it. The judges will not hand it to someone who does not show that they are prepared, confident, and able to handle the job…and again, there is NO way that you are prepared in 7 days as much as someone who has prepared for 7 months. That’s just the truth. 

Start early and prepare to win - EARN the right to win.



Friday, November 13, 2015

Developing Interview and Resume Content

Developing interview and resume content is NOT as difficult as it seems. It can be very easy to develop content that will help you stand out from your competition. (And if you have never given thought to content development, well, that could explain why you are not winning. In the pageant world, content is KING! Content helps drive your interview, make your resume stand out, and can help you capture the crown, if utilized correctly.)

The more stuff you do or are involved in, the more you will have to talk about in your interview. That's obvious, right? The more you do, the more you can talk about. For example, if you have started your own seasonal clothing drive...that's something you can say that no other girl can. If you have been involved with your local youth group organization for 6 years and are now a counselor...that again is something no one else (or not many others can say). If you are just going to school, going to the mall, and watching movies...well, almost everyone else can say that! Note: I am not saying to just start doing random stuff all the time - develop a consistent plan with a cause that means something to you!

You need to be doing "stuff" to adequately separate yourself from other contestants. This "stuff" can include:
- volunteering on a weekly basis,
- participating in after-school (or in school) clubs/organizations (i.e. Student Government, Chess Club),
- attending local chapter meetings for organizations that are important you (i.e. SPCA, Chamber of Commerce, Breast Cancer Awareness etc),

Let me say this about volunteering: everyone should be volunteering. And if everyone is volunteering, you have to figure out a way to make your volunteering stand out. So choose a cause that is special to you and stick with it. While you can volunteer for a number of different causes, you should find one that is important to you and constantly be working on it. For example, if you spend 500 hours with St. Jude and help them raise $5,000...that sounds better than just working the registration desk at one charity event on one particular evening...ever.

You must use your time wisely! I know you have homework and household responsibilities, but start weighing your time and using it wisely! If you spend 2 hours each night on TV, you could use 1 of those hours each night to volunteer or plan your next fundraising event (think: 2 hours each night multiplied by 7 days each week = 14 hours you could be creating content).

Plus, the more thought and effort that you put into your "stuff", the more you will have to say! For example, if you helped raise over $10,000 for your favorite charity, you can then tell the judges that volunteering helped you become a very relatable person with excellent communication and networking skills! Trust me: that sounds a lot better than: "I spend my free time watching movies, eating potato chips, and picking my toes! You could also talk about being involved in Student Government and what it has taught you about being a good leader and a role model. Or you could talk about how being a Girl Scout for 12 years has taught you the value of commitment and given you a hard work ethic. What about sports? A 2-year commitment to a sports team could lead you to telling the judges that you are a team player, take direction well, and love setting goals and working hard to achieve them.

Content is KING - don't get it twisted! Start (wisely) investing your time in yourself and your content development so you can reap the benefits...and get that crown on your head!

Friday, September 18, 2015

What 5 Summer Pageants Taught Me

I'm writing this blog post as we round out the craziest summer that we've ever had at BV; 5 pageants in 3 months can take a toll on you! But, hey, I walked away with my own national title and BV girls walked away with countless awards, states titles, and international awards. We did well! But I have to stay that I have learned a lot this here are a few things I would like to remind you of, just so you don't embarrass yourself...<3 beware: honesty below.

1. If hair and makeup by professionals is allowed, it is allowed because they want girls to look good and look like the total package. Don't get it twisted: get the professional to help create your total look. And if you don't like how it is done, nicely say something...wiping it off secretly or leaving early to change it is just disrespectful when it could have been made to your liking. They are professionals for a reason.

2. The evening gown/formal wear competition is not about the cost of the gown, but trust that you don't want things to look like you didn't care. You will represent this pageant organization for a period of one year if you win, you will be in their marketing and on their website, people will watch the dvd just to spot you - you must look good! Don't skimp on the clothing...just don't. It will more than obvious on stage when you stand next to your competitors. Look like you are ready for the marketing (magazines, posters, cards etc). 

3. Practice doesn't stop when you get to the pageant. Those who practice in the hotel hallways or stairways are those with serious determination and it will show on stage. Pageant week is not the time to catch up on sleep, go partying with sister queens, or time to get an attitude. If you are there to win, show it - work hard all week til that crown is on your head. Wasted time is wasted time. And please, leave your attitudes for your house - the extra drama is not needed.

4. For heavens sake, don't forget your manners and please remind your families have them too. Why in the world are you pushing people, talking about others, or bullying someone? Focus on yourself! Time you spend talking about someone else, you could be focused on yourself. Let me say this: you are not at the pageant to make friends...I mean, it is much more likely that you are there to win, right? Then stay focused. And tell that to your families too! The amount of time spent on drama this summer was ridiculous - focus on the win, not the Sour Susies who want to ruin your experience. Be a Positive Patty - it will show when it matters, always. 

5. Pack with intent. It never fails that you forget something, so start planning weeks in advance so when things pop up in your mind, you can add them to your kit. And think about you - no one knows you better than yourself. If you know that sometimes you get allergy attacks or sweat profusely during interview - plan ahead. Also, always have your talent tracks on a backup CD/in email/ipod. Again, think ahead and pack with intent. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Are you ready for national competition?

BEWARE: honesty below. 

Many pageants offer their contestants the opportunity to compete at the national level without having won their state title. Some say that you can place in an optional or the queen's court (top 5) and go to nationals. Some allow the 1st runner up to go to nationals etc etc. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should just pay your way and attend nationals...let me tell you why.

My dad often told me that nationals is where the 'best of the best' come together. Did you win 4th runner up in actress? Well so did 20 other girls...and some won 1st runner up in actress..and some flat out won it. They are all going to nationals. Some have competed for 6 years and have been working hard for 6 years to qualify for nationals...that girl is going too. My point is, if you are going in with one weekend of preparation from your state pageant and nothing else, (and your earning that 4th runner up in modeling), how do you think it will fair against 100s of other girls who did better than you at the state level. And the national level before too.

Ok, I'm NOT saying that you should not go to nationals...but let me say this again - nationals is where the 'best of the best' compete. I remember my first qualifying for nationals - I was a maniac with excitement! Checking flights, see what I could compete in etc etc. But I made a vow to myself - I would not go to nationals until I won my state title or until I felt I truly could compete against the best of the best. Hey, after all, to be the have to beat the best.

Again, I'm not saying that you should not compete at nationals without a state title, but I want to you seriously consider the monetary, mental, and physical commitment you are making with traveling to nationals without your state title (if you won the state title, you are required to compete at nationals). Take a look at some of the videos from previous national competitions on YouTube - they can be quite the education! See what the winners wore (style, designer, fabric) and how they wore it (modeling technique, customized clothing, shoes, jewelry) etc. Nationals is a serious undertaking for someone who wants serious results.

Do not just compete at nationals because you CAN. Compete because you are at your personal best and are confident that you can do your personal best. <3

Friday, July 24, 2015

What Pageant Workshops Don't Tell You

Many pageants have workshops during pageant weekend, but they really just seem to brush over the main competitions, they don’t really go in-depth with their personal tips, advice, and things learned. Well, here are a few things that I’ve noticed that they miss:

1. Eye contact is essential.
Line up your stuffed animals and practice eye contact! Or grab a few family members to play along and watch for your eye contact. Eye contact with your judges is one of the most important things to do while on-stage because it demonstrates confidence and helps you connect with the judges.

2. Posture is also important.
If you think you are standing up tall, stretch a bit further - lift that chin, relax those shoulders when pulled back, and create a bit of a curve in that back to lift your chest even higher! That’s where you want to be. Stage lights and staging make everything much bigger…hence big gowns, big hair, big/obvious earrings etc. Your posture has to be on point - show that you can walk with confidence and hold your head high!

3. Think about your pageant’s needs and reflect that.
If your pageant is all about the everyday girl, then you should reflect that on-stage and in the interview room. If your pageant is more fashion-forward, then you should reflect that. Figure out what your pageant wants, if it is in line with what you want, and then compete to win. Sometimes one particular pageant system may just not be your type and that’s ok. The wise thing is to recognize it and play to your strengths. I see countless girls compete at one pageant for years and years and they never try anything else - hey, I didn’t know any better either until someone told me. Don’t get obsessed with one system and get stuck there. Weigh your options and move wisely. 

4. Wardrobe does matter.
While it truly is not about the cost of the gown, it should reflect who you are as a girl and what the pageant is looking for. For example, if you had never seen someone win the national pageant in a cocktail/short dress, it probably wouldn’t be wise to wear a short dress. It just isn’t the look they are going for in that pageant. If everyone wears their hair big or a particular color of shoe, then it is probably for a reason. Your wardrobe selections should be wise and should reflect an understanding of what that pageant looks for in a titleholder. Don’t be naive.

5. Judges are everywhere.

You think walking around the hotel lobby in your PJs is cool? What about yelling at mom in the elevator? Seriously, judges are everywhere, even if they don’t mean to be - I’ve had to run to my car before and spotted the worst attitudes in the parking lot and garage elevator. I’ve gotten hungry during a late night of judging and ran down to the hotel restaurant to grab something and saw moms and daughters in sweats and acting impolitely to hotel staff. While judges are not actively walking around with score sheets, you are giving your judges an honest look into what you are really like and who you really are. Behave wisely - take your drama home and deal with it there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cocky vs. Confident in Interview

Over the past few weeks, I have had a number of girls (and their moms) talk to me about being humble in interview:

"Oh I could never say that..."
"Oh I never brag about myself, so this is difficult..."
"Oh she always been the one to be humble, she never really talks about what she's accomplished..."
"Won't that come off as cocky or fake?"

I'm sorry to say that if you cannot tell the judges why you are awesome or why you are the best choice then you are doing yourself more harm than help in the interview room. You must be able to talk about your accomplishments, goals, ideas, plans, visions, awards, history, experiences etc because they are what make you, you. This is BAIT, not word vomit. This is enticing the judges, not sickening them. The interview is the only opportunity you get to quickly sum up why YOU are the perfect choice. The things you say in interview show the judges that YOU have earned your stripes and that you are qualified and ready....confident, not cocky. Now if you're aiming to just fade into the background and be considered 'just like everyone else'...then ok, don't tell the judges about you. If you want to stand out from the pack, you have to the flamingo in a pack of zebras - stand out!

The judges do not know everything about you. If they did, well, there would be no reason for an interview process. This is your opportunity to tell the judges why you're the best candidate for the "job" and why you are the perfect choice. If you cannot do this, you will fail because the judges will never get the chance to really know you, what inspires you, what motivates you, what you have done, and what you are capable of. What a waste of an interview! You must bait them. You must entice them.

We as women are taught to be humble. When we brag, people call us mean names - bossy, cocky...and some other not-so-nice words. When men brag, they are just spouting their resume. Stop falling into this gender trap and make a statement! Be bold, be fearless, and stand out!

How can you balance your "humble nature" and the "bragger nature" I want you to adopt? Here's a few ideas to get you started in finding your personal balance:

- Clearly define your past success in facts, not feelings. 
If you have the facts, use them (i.e. in 2012, I won the Young Author's Contest and the Creative Writing Award...I feel confident that being on the New York Times best sellers list is in my future! - if you have the facts, use them).

- When discussing past success, give credit where credit is due...acknowledge that others played a role as well. (I.e. was mom crucial in learning your time management skills? Was dad key in your talent development? Show the judges you know that others helped are not solely responsible for your successes...which have now turned into your 'brag points')

- Don't exaggerate your successes; tell the story as it is and be proud of what you did. Your stories are key, no one else can have an identical story! 

- Acknowledge failures/weaknesses BUT turn it around quickly to discuss the lessons learned or skills learned (stay positive). 
Never focus too much on a negative; drive your interview to the positive. Everyone has insecurities and a confident person knows what theirs are. Being honest and light-hearted/positive about them makes you both more likable and relatable. 

- Show your enthusiasm! 
So many girls fail to show facial expressions or emotions - you are not a robot, you are a human being who uses her hands, faces, and voice inflection to show genuine excitement. Your lack of expression will scare them, not invite them.

- Clearly state your enthusiasm for the position - let the judges know that you are excited for position by clearly identifying what makes you the perfect candidate. 
Do you have fabulous speaking skills? Can you network? Are you a people person? What makes you unique? Tell them! You can never ASSUME that they know these things about you.

- Do not assume that the judges will help you sell you. 
It is your job to drive the interview and discuss the topics that make you shine; sell them on you! Do not assume that the judges know that your 10 years as a cheerleader have made you an excellent team player and leader...tell them! Some people do not think the way you do - tell them what you want them to know!

You can also:

- Learn the art of the "humble brag".
I'm not asking you to be a jerk in the interview room. Of course not! I'm asking you to speak confidently about yourself...because the interview is indeed about YOU. Many people think that being close-lipped about themselves means they are being humble, but what they are really doing is selling themselves short. Keep in mind that the best products practically sell themselves once the consumer understands what the product is...when was the last time your favorite hair spray or toilet paper bragged to you? They don't have to! Once you understand the product, it sells itself! That is my point exactly - if you are close-lipped about what you have done or what you could do, the judges will never get to know you, and thus will never be 'sold' on you being the clear choice!

- Learn to speak about yourself in a tactful manner. 
If nobody knows anything about you, then how can they respect you or what you're bringing to table/job? You must establish rapport with your judges by using examples of things you've experienced first hand - your stories and talking about yourself establishes you as an experienced candidate for the job.

- Dress the part.
Don't pop your collar or wear your 7 inch heels to interview. Have the confidence to dress tastefully and not overly-flash your judges with jewelry, high-smelling perfume, or your lady parts. Enough said.

- Speak with purpose.
A confident person makes everyone around them feel better. A cocky person tries to make himself look better than others. So, you be the judge, am I asking you to be cocky? NO. I am asking you to go into that interview room with the purpose of making everyone in the room feel like you are MORE than capable and experienced to handle the job at hand. If you never tell them what makes you capable, you have no purpose...and you will have failed.

Stop sabotaging yourself by saying, "oh I never brag" and instead focus on telling the judges what you want them to know. I am NOT asking you to brag. I AM asking you to get over that word/idea of bragging and to remember that the judges do not know everything about you, so it is your job to give them the brief highlights in the SMALL period of time you have. If they didn't care about you and what you bring to the table, they would not be there, so use your time wisely.

Get over the idea of bragging. Seriously, get over it. The girl who wins is the girl who walks in with a plan, gives the judges a clear idea of what she is qualified, and demonstrates that she is capable of balancing discussions about her accomplishments, family, education, ambitions etc. Instead of focusing on the word "brag", I want you to focus on the idea that you drive your interview and that you are there to inform the judges about why you are the clear choice for the next titleholder. That is of course unless you do not believe that...and that's an entirely different blog post!

Also, get over the idea of being seen as 'too much' or 'fake'. I'm not asking you to present anything but your BEST SELF to the judges. Speak from the heart, speak from the experiences you have had, speak from your accomplishments - there is nothing fake about that - you earned those stripes, so talk about them! And be proud about what you are saying! No one has a resume identical to yours! Own it!

If you carry the same confident attitude throughout the interview and throughout the competition, it will come across as confident, not cocky or fake. I'm asking you to constantly be the best version of yourself. No one else. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, stay humble. That's all fine and dandy, but if you walk out of that interview room saying nothing that makes you special or different, you have wasted your time and your opportunity...and you have just walked away from the crown.


Parts of this post are inspired by:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

7 Questions To Ask BEFORE You Compete

I always encourage girls to try different pageant systems because different systems look for and offer different things. However, when competing, I find that many girls do not ask the director all of the questions they should be asking. It is important to ask the right questions so you do not end up regretting your year, having to give up your title, or wishing you never competed in the first place. You should also be asking the right questions so you can have the best experience possible!

Here is my list of 7 questions that YOU should be asking BEFORE you compete:

1. What sort of paperwork is involved?
Is there an application? Resume for the judges (if so, how many copies should I bring)? Are there emcee cards? Are there optional contests to enter (and if so, what paperwork is needed for that)? Do I need a headshot for a program book? Is there a program book card?

You do not want to be the ONE girl at registration who did not know about a resume. You do not want to be the girl in the program book who is missing her headshot OR a required ad page. It is important to know what paperwork is involved, from beginning to end, so you are as prepared as possible.

2. Is there a non-compete clause involved?
After your crowning moment is over, you may be asked to sign some paperwork. This is not the time you want to be hit with a "non-compete clause" or other clauses that you were not aware of until after your special moment. It is important to ask (before you compete), what the contract requires of you.

In the pageant world, a non-compete clause means that you will not compete elsewhere during the year of your. This means that once you win that title, you are their titleholder until you crown your successor and you cannot compete in other pageants until you give up this title. Again, you do not want to figure this out AFTER your crowning.

3. Are there required or suggested appearances?
Some pageants require a particular number of appearances during your year as a titleholder. And some pageants will take your title back if you do not complete this requirement. It is very important to know if there is a required number of appearances for your year OR if there is a suggested amount. If so, you should ask (before the pageant) how you are to go about booking these appearances. Some pageants have booking directors or business managers that handle this detail...but many do not. It is important to figure out (before you compete) if this is something you will be required to figure out.

4. How involved will my director be in my year?
It is unfortunate that some pageants do not have super involved directors...yet, some do. It is important to figure out how involved your director will be in your year as a titleholder because you may want them to help you prepare for nationals, help you book appearances etc. If they are not involved, you may end up disappointed during your experience.

5. What exactly are you looking for in a titleholder?
Are you looking for an ambassador? Are you looking for a year-long volunteer who will go out and recruit girls? Are you looking for someone who will just show up next year and crown her successor? What exactly do you want and like in an ideal titleholder?

It is important to know what your 'job' requires so you can be the best titleholder possible. It is also important to know what is required of you so when you are speaking in the interview room, you can speak intelligently about the job.

Maybe your director is looking for someone who will help build the brand/company/organization! If this is not something you can fit into your schedule, it is very important to know this in advance of winning! I know you would not be happy if you had to give your title back because you did not fulfill the requirements.

Also, it would be good to know what is expected of you. Are you expected to pay for nationals yourself (entry fees, ad pages, optionals, etc)? Are you expected to turn in a silent auction basket or raise money for a charity? Are you expected to make a specific number of appearances during your year? These are just some of the questions you should be asking to understand what is really desired in a titleholder (for that specific system).

6. Are pageant coaches allowed? What about hair and makeup people? What about my mom backstage?
Some pageants do not allow pageant coaches to be involved. Some pageants do not allow hair and makeup people in the dressing room. And some pageants only allow the youngest age group to have a mom backstage.

It is important to know what is and is not allowed backstage so that you are not breaking any rules. You do not want to be labeled or blacklisted because you cannot follow rules; trust me, people talk.

7. How can I get feedback? Are scores automatically sent to me? What about comments? 
Some pageants automatically send you feedback. Some pageants require that you pay a small fee ahead of time for your feedback.

Please note that comments and scores are two different things. Sometimes you may just get the number score the judges gave you (for example, 1-10), sometimes you may get comments (for example, "walk slower in evening wear" etc), and sometimes you can get both. This is the jackpot! Use these comments and scores for your personal development! Read over these without getting angry and figure out where you can improve - feedback is gold!

Do not get angry if you have to pay for feedback - many times, pageant offices have to sort through 100s of judges forms to find specific contestants, they then type up all of the comments (whichever they can decipher to be honest), stamp, and mail your comments. This requires human labor - this cannot be automatically done. I try to never take offense when a pageant has a fee for something because it usually means that someone is actually working 'behind the scenes' to make that something happen. Also, do not get angry if you want feedback and then after the pageant, find out that you cannot get it. If feedback was important to you, you should have inquired prior to the pageant to find out if it would be available.

Some pageant coaches, like myself, love to see your videos. Videos/dvds can say a lot! This allows for a professional to evaluate your performance and give you feedback. Let me honest and say that not all pageant judges are professionals.

There are many questions that you should ask before competing! Make sure you are asking the right questions so you have the best experience possible.

<3 Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

5 things to NEVER say in interview

Thinking about what you could eliminate from your interview? Thinking about your last interview and wishing you did not say something?

Here is BV's Top Five Things to NEVER Say In Interview:

1. Filler words
Such As...

Why? Seriously, why? Do not be so eager to fill the air with a response. Take a moment to think and absorb the question, then respond. What feels like 10 seconds in your mind, is most likely 3-5 seconds for the judge. Relax, breathe, then respond.

Judge: "What is your favorite book?"
You: (smile, breathe) "I really enjoyed reading..."

*note: I inserted a smile here because if it is your "favorite" book, it'll probably make you happy...and if you really enjoyed it, you would smile. A lack of facial expression will make you look like a robot...or zombie.

2. "I Don't Know"
Yes, you do. Think about it. Again - do not be so eager to just fill the air with a response. Take a moment and think. And if you really do not know, politely ask for clarification - maybe the explanation can help you! Just like when you were in the school spelling bee and asked for a word to be used in a sentence so you could better understand...

3. "You know"
Example, "I like Maryland because of its great history, you know?"

No, I don't know. Tell me. Never assume the judge knows something. It is your job to present the whole picture; failure to do so is leaving the judge hanging. Do YOU like to be left hanging?

4. Cultural indicators
"All that and a bag of chips"

What if I don't like chips? No seriously, avoid being too casual with the judges. This is an interview and you are applying for the job of "the titleholder". Treat this interview like a job interview - be professional, avoid slang, and speak with purpose. Also, some cultural indicators can give away where you are from (for example: "ya'll" = Southern); a titleholder is a representative of all people, not just one type of person.

5. Qualifiers
I think, I believe, I feel - we know that you think, you believe, and you feel, you don't need to tell us again. Get right to the point, stop wasting time. While you're at it, try to avoid repeating the question too - the judge has most likely heard herself/himself say that question at least 20 times, why are you repeating it? You're just taking up time that you could be using to answer your question.

If you liked this blog post or have any comments/questions/concerns, COMMENT below! We want to hear from you! <3 


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Ways to Interview Like a Pro

Everyone wants a perfect interview score! After all, many do say that the pageant is won in the interview room! So how can you interview like a pro? Here's just 5 suggestions to help:

1. Memorize concepts and ideas, not words.
You will sound over-rehearsed and fake if you memorize words and try to spit them out when asked. Instead, work on learning concepts, ideas, and themes and try to bring your responses back to your main ideas. Even if you know everything there is to know about the Middle East or alphabet soup, do not rehearse what you will say. Focus on the concepts and you feel about the topic - instead of giving the judges a rehearsed presentation, you can give them the natural you, with natural body language, responses, facial expressions and more!

2.  Chat it up!
Prior to interview, do not just sit quietly in a corner. Get someone like mom or your interview coach on the phone and start practicing some questions! I would much rather you go into an interview already warmed up than cold turkey! It takes everyone some time to warm up, so instead of hitting your comfort zone 5 minutes in to the interview, hit the comfort zone as soon as you walk into the room! A warm up is key to a great interview!

3. Be relatable.
From the time you could understand something, your mom or dad told you a story. Stories teach us lessons and ideas. If you've learned and grasped ideas in story form since you were little, don't you think your judges have too? I mean, haven't we all learned not to take things from strangers from Snow White? After all, they could be offering you a poisoned apple!

Think about the stories you can tell the judges to create a visual in their mind and to really in tune with them. Even though you cannot bring a poster board or powerpoint into the interview room,  you can still hook your judges in with a good, relevant can shout 'relatability' when they can connect with you and your story. But please, make sure your stories are 20-30 seconds max and do not tell the judges, "ok, I have a story for you"...did mom ever start her stories that way? No.

4. Flip your mindset/understanding of the interview.
You can completely take the pressure off of yourself by remembering that the judges actually do want you to succeed. They do not naturally want to make you fail or cry. It is your job to provide them with the information that says "she is the role model we've been looking for" or "she's the perfect girl to be Miss X". It is your job to provide the judges with ideas, perspectives, concepts, and examples. Focusing on being helpful and conversational can help you to relax. By changing your mindset of "this is a test" to "this is a fun chat about me...and who knows me better than myself", you can flip the interview in your favor!

5. Be clear.
Prior to interview, you should make a chart of some sort. Organize what your main messages are and how you'd like to relay them. Organize what you really want the judges to know about you and figure out how you'd intertwine them in interview.

You can only tell the judges who you are and what your purpose is when YOU are clear on it. You can only express your messages, concepts, passions, and ideas when YOU are clear on them. You can only be passionate when you truly believe in and understand your message.

If you have not organized your messages and ideas prior to interview, you will end up trying to do it IN the interview and you'll start fumbling over your words and really, just embarrassing yourself. Take the time to organize and prepare for the interview like you would prepare for a school test - you'd outline, organize, practice, and then take the wouldn't just jump right into the test, right? I hope so!

Friday, January 30, 2015

5 (Not So Typical) Lessons to Becoming a Pageant Pro

It has been a busy few months here in BV-land! I've helped organize a MAO local, watched Miss Universe, and have judged two pageants since our last you can bet that I have a lot to say! So I want to present: 5 (Not So Typical) Lessons to Becoming a Pageant Pro. This post is about you as a pageant 'professional', your behavior, your image, etc.

Let me start right off with the ever-popular disclaimer: I am not attacking anyone specific below and if you think you will be offended, click away. If you think you will learn something (or get a good laugh), read on!

1. Why do people think that 'pageant casual' means 'bare the booty' or 'wear the tightest and shortest thing I can find'?

Seriously? You are interviewing for the job of 'national titleholder' or 'state titleholder' or whatever. Be a role model. Have some respect for your body and the organization. I am by no means a prude, but I seriously do not need to see booty cheeks or wonder if you can breathe in that outfit choice.

Dress for the job you want, ladies! Stay classy and be a role model to the younger ones around you. They do indeed look up to you...and should not be able to look up your skirts or dresses with ease. Keep it classy!

2. Mind your face, language, and manners.

Just because you are in a pageant does NOT mean that people are to BOW DOWN to you during pageant week. Many of the personnel on-site are volunteers or are being paid to be there for a production, not for you to be rude to them or disrespect them.

Contestants/families being rude to sponsors? Excuse me?

Contestants/families being rude to theatre personnel? Come again?

The reality is that not everyone can walk away with the crown come finale, but you need to conduct yourself like the respectable young woman that was crowned. You still have a job to do as a local or state titleholder!

And please note, that although you may not say something nasty, your face and body language can say a thousand words! And just because you have a crown on does NOT mean that you can cut lines or not hold doors open for people...stay classy ladies.

3. Consistency wins!

I cannot preach this enough - you must be consistently strong in ALL phases of competition to win. How can you be consistent on stage so you present the same strong image to the judges? Here's just two ideas:

 - Practice: if you do not practice with your full hair and makeup and walk with your full fierceness in your competition clothing, things will not go as planned. I can pretty much guarantee it - proper preparation prevents poor performance! Make sure that when you are practicing, you do it full out, or who knows - hair will get stuck in your lip gloss during that full turn or you can trip in your turn and fall out. Oh and another thing, if you didn't practice the turn in the months before the pageant, please do not attempt it while at the pageant - you could trip, fall, and die. ;)

 - Figure out your message: what is your consistent message? Are you cool, fresh, independent, and whimsical in interview and then wear a straight, tight, black gown for evening wear? That's not consistent! You have to make sure the judges always recognize you and can identify you will a single, non-confusing message. Make their jobs easy: make them choose you!

4. Grow up and act like a professional.

Taking your qualms to a chat room or chat board is shady, low, and should be beneath you. To attack another contestant or an organization is not professional and personally, proves that you did not win for a reason.

If you have a qualm, question, or issue, be a professional and take it to the person in charge to find a mutually beneficial solution. We pageant people spend so much time talking about bullying and its negative effects on others and then we open the laptop and do the same thing we preach against! Grow up and be a professional.

If you did not win, there was a reason - do not automatically assume conspiracy. Ask for judges comments, review the tapes, etc and figure out how you can improve. Or get a coach or some professional and continue working on yourself - the time you spend on chat boards or gossiping is time that you are losing for personal preparations. Everyone gets angry, but take that anger and frustration and channel it into your preparations instead.

5. One judge does not crown you.

Many pageants include a way to avoid a judge tanking or pushing a specific girl. In the Miss America Organization, for example, auditors will drop the highest and the lowest score in each category. This is to avoid one specific judge purposely trying to make a contestant win or lose.

Let me dig deeper: to attack a judge after the pageant and say that he or she tanked your daughter purposely for whatever reason is technically not possible. The reason there is more than one judge in a pageant is so multiple people can score you...multiple people would have to score you high for you to win and multiple people would have to score you low for you to not win. One judge cannot affect the entire outcome. 

This would be an entirely different post if I talked about what incident inspired me to say this, but you DO NOT approach a judge after a pageant. You act like a professional and ask for comments and scores from the director in a professional manner. And then, you DO NOT take to your facebook and attack a judge - you can ask for clarification on the comments. Judges write comments very quickly to HELP you. They do not have time to write millions of words, but at least they took the time to write a few words of suggestions or comments. This means that they wrote quickly - to take offense to a quick comment (of someone who was trying to be helpful) is silly. If you received NO comments, you would have NO feedback. Be appreciative for heavens sake - if you need clarification, ask politely for it. I do not understand why people think that being behind a computer makes you stronger or more capable. OR why being behind a computer makes it right to bully or insult someone. Grow up and ask for clarification; you cannot judge THEM for something they wrote in 3 seconds with the intent to help you. The judges never want to hurt you! Trust that!

Overall, conduct yourself like a professional. You never know who is networked or connected with whom - you can hurt yourself TREMENDOUSLY with your social media posts, approaching people etc. You never know who knows whom...are you intentionally trying to blacklist yourself? Oy vey.